Redesigning separate company websites into a single ecosystem
With an expanding Marketing team and our new UX Group, Genius Sports' executives had a desire to redesign the company websites. At the time, there were three sites and we needed a fourth—and none of them were connected to one another. Now was our chance to create an ecosystem and common design language between them. The strategy behind this task was in my hands. The deadline for the MVP? Just two months.
I received the website copy later than expected. When the copy was provided, it didn't come with image content and we had to work with Marketing to hunt down images and screenshots and produce new ones.
I set an aggressive 3-month timeline to deliver the MVP, which was cut down to 2 months by the executive team due to a conference we were attending.
In two months, we needed to strategize, define the MVP, ideate, design, and develop pages for four interlinking websites.
Working closely with Marketing, Design, Development, Project Management, Legal, and our stakeholders, I set the stage for the project with a UX strategy brief, sitemaps, and wireframes. I also worked alongside our Project Manager, Brandon Mahaffy, to define processes that we continued to iterate on after the MVP launched.
The end result was a new ecosystem of "separate but united" websites for the four areas of the business: Genius Sports Group, Genius Sports, Betgenius, and Genius Sports Media.
During the initial phase of the project, I worked closely with Marketing by kicking things off with a creative brief. While they worked on writing the content, I proceeded to conduct stakeholder interviews. Once the content was ready, I wrote a UX strategy brief and designed a sitemap.
Tell me a bit about the work you do. What are your main responsibilities and those of your department?
Let's take a moment to think broadly. What do you think we as a company could do better in regard to how we communicate with the outside world?
If Genius Sports had a store that was open to the public, what is the one thing you'd want visitors to take away from their time there?
Tell me about a time when you wanted to share something broadly—whether a story or a piece of information—with people outside the company.
In what capacity would you like for your department to interact with the public and individuals outside our company?
Aside from announcements, what other content or information would be valuable for your department to share with the outside world?
Now I want to hear more about how your department works. (Here I asked a series of questions tailored to the individual I was speaking with.)
What are some corporate websites that you like? Dislike?
Is there anything we didn't cover in this conversation that you'd like to discuss?
Is there anyone else you think I should talk to?
In addition to the insight I gathered from Marketing—our primary stakeholder—I interviewed 5 additional people from different parts of the company, including Talent Acquisition, Business Development, Support, HR, and Partnerships. I also established a relationship with the Legal team, knowing they'd need to review the work and draft our privacy documents.
Working with our Research Manager, Jonathan DeFaveri, we formulated a set of interview questions, which I conducted solo.
With the content and stakeholder interviews in hand, I proceeded to draft a UX strategy brief that outlined the project vision and goals, defined the team, deliverables, roadmap and timeline, sitemaps, and early wireframes for the site navigation.
Read the brief
To kick off the project in March 2018, I sent the Marketing team a creative brief to fill out. I asked many questions, including:
What do we want the site to accomplish? What should it do for us? (I.e. drive sales, inquiries, educate audience, build an email list)
How will we measure success? What does success look like?
What’s the one most important thing the design team needs to ensure they do to make the project successful?
Who are the target audiences of our website?
Who are our primary competitors? Secondary?
What are our users’ current pain points with our website?
Is there a timeline? Any deadlines that need to be hit?
Any special features the site needs? (i.e. email collection, auto-responders, contact or booking form)
Will the site have company history, executive summaries, career pages? What other kinds of pages does the site need to have? (i.e. blog or news feed, support, forums)
What information do we want to emphasize on the site? Which products need to be showcased, summarized, listed, or not present?
Will there be regional considerations regarding site visibility?
Will the site need to support multiple languages? If so, who is responsible for translations?
Who will be responsible for writing copy?
Who will be the legal oversight for the content on the site? What will that process look like?
Who has final say over content and design? Who gives the seal of approval?
The sitemap went through many iterations during the first couple weeks of August 2018, but ultimately settled on those found in the strategy brief. From August to October we had a tight deadline to contend with and many decisions to make regarding how we were going to build the website, what our process would look like, who the core team would be, and what everyone's responsibilities were, so there wasn't even time to consider how we could simplify the content structure.
After we released the initial MVP in October, there was a little more time to breathe. I took this opportunity to push for a refined sitemap that greatly simplified the architecture, reduced the page count, and saved valuable design and development time as we iterated on the initial pages we'd released.
This is what the sitemap looked like when I left the project. Rather than needing four separate documents, they all fit into one:
In the span of just a couple of weeks, I wireframed over 40 web pages. This was an opportunity to see the copy in action and identify reusable components and patterns. During this time, I worked closely with the marketing team to hone the copy and worked with the design team to ensure they were being set up for success.
Here are a handful of the 40+ wireframes I produced:
We launched the website in the first week of October 2018. Certain areas of the site were incomplete, given the tight deadline, and the design and code wasn't as polished as we would like it to be. But the website succeeded at what the executives needed it for during the conference.
We didn't stop. We continued to press forward, fleshing out the missing pages through the end of the year.
In December, our project manager, Brandon Mahaffy, and I worked closely to improve our processes. Once the new year hit (2019), we began to re-strategize with Marketing about the site content and iterate on the designs. I worked with the designers to come up with new ideas for image treatments, to create visual distinction between the different business verticals, and proposed reducing the page count. Many of the pages felt bare, so we combined pages in the same product tree together. This gave both our designers and developers more time to produce quality work and made it easier to navigate the site.
At the beginning of the project while I was working on my strategy deliverables, I was also involved in discussions about how we were going to develop the website. I insisted that, whatever we did, we needed a CMS and shouldn't begin without one. This was generally agreed upon until it was ultimately vetoed by my superiors due to time constraints. They later admitted poor judgement. To this day (November 2019) the website still doesn't have a CMS. This is a lesson in holding ground I'll take with me, since nearly every difficult moment that arose throughout the project's lifespan stemmed from the lack of a CMS.